Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd announced today that the manner of death in the Darrin Hanna case is now judged a "Homicide". Hanna, 45, resided in North Chicago and died in November 2011.
In March 2012, the Lake County Coroner's Office (under a previous administration) declared the manner of death as "Undetermined." Since then, Lake County Coroner Dr. Rudd obtained new information and reviewed all available facts, numerous detailed law enforcement reports, medical records, photographs, tape recording, and autopsy reports. Additionally, Dr. Rudd interviewed coroner's staff and consulted with forensic science experts.
In determining the manner of death, this Lake County Coroner's Office uses and applies the general principles found in the "Guide for the Manner of Death Classification" published by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME).
Dr. Rudd said, "This office recognizes that the intermingling of natural and non-natural factors presents a set of complex considerations in deciding the manner of death. In making this judgment, I used the NAME Manner of Death Classification principle that states 'but for the injury (or hostile environment), would the person have died when he or she did?' This logic is often cited as a way to determine whether a death should be classified as natural, or non-natural, i.e. homicide, accident, or suicide. The manner of death is unnatural where injury hastened the death of one already vulnerable to significant or even life threatening disease."
Rudd added, "Homicide occurs when a person's death results from a volitional act committed by another person to cause fear, harm, or death. Intent to cause death is a common element, but is not required for classification as a homicide. It must be emphasized that the classification of homicide for the purposes of death investigation is a neutral term and neither indicates nor implies criminal intent, which remains within the province of legal processes".
Conclusions regarding the manner of death may be changed or amended any time based on new or missed relevant and material information. Also, conclusions reached for the purpose of manner of death classification for the Lake County Coroner's Office may not be the same as those of other entities and officials.